I think this is a great way to get to know folks online and I want to thank Sandy Shin for suggesting it.
Leave a comment saying “Interview me,” and I’ll respond by asking you five questions. Post your answers to the questions and the questions themselves in your blog/journal, with the offer to interview someone else in the same post.
1. How did you come to be interested in writing stories with Asian settings?
When I graduated from college, (we won’t go into how long ago that was)I missed my previous reading schedule and thought I’d like to read something unusual about someone or in a setting I’d never done. My first read was both: the biography of Mahatma Ghandi, from which I got a great idea for a Deep Space Nine three part episode. Alas, the show ended before I had a chance to pitch it. After the biography, I decided to read more stuff set in Asia as none of it was ever broached as a topic at school. I had one prof with a love for “other” settings and he suggested – God Bless him, he LOANED ME HIS COPY – of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He has long since had his copy returned and I currently own abridged and unabridged copies, one comic book episode and the soap opera version of the story. I hope to get the full Asian version of “Red Cliffs” someday.
After all of the research I’ve done for “Mourn Their Courage,” I can’t see leaving my world behind. I want to stay put for awhile yet. I’ve got ideas for one or two more stories and from there, I might well continue to India or the Middle East. We’ll see.
2. Who’s your favorite character, from any book/movie/etc.? What makes him or her your favorite character?
My favorite character(s) of all time, as a group, are in Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Tigana.” The book might have some flaws, but the characters stay with me. After so many readings I’ve had to replace my copy of the paperback more than once, I still return to their lives and wonder what they’re doing now. They’re intelligent, courageous individuals with deep passions. I find all of this attractive. My favorite among the lot is Alessan and I think he’s my favorite because he’s also the idyllic leader: someone I could look up to and respect.
3. What is one book you never get tired of rereading? Oooh, this one’s tough. Up through my last re-read of “Tigana,” that would have been it. However, the last time I read it, I edited it. There are things I loved initially and I now feel are over used or don’t work. I think as writers, we don’t have the luxury of indulging in re-reading a “perfect” book because we’re always improving. If we’re not, we’re either not writing well anymore or we’re dead. There ARE books I still enjoy re-reading and “Tigana” is among them. Mercedes Lackey’s “Last Herald Mage of Valdemar” trilogy is something I still enjoy for the passion and heart of the characters. I enjoy re-reading the Harry Potter series, and Pride and Prejudice, but I edit all of these as I go. I can’t help it. Don’t think me a religious nut or a holier-than-thou sort of Christian, but I DO enjoy re-reading my Bible. There are always new things I find even though I’ve read it front to back. Maybe that’s because I continue to grow and it’s the only book I’ve read that always stretches my horizons. Fortunately, I rarely try to edit it.
4. If there’s one place in the world you could live in, where would that be? So many places, so little time. I could live anywhere I could set a story. Seriously. I’d love to return to England someday, I’d love to live in Tuscany and I dearly hope to return to China. I’m positive I will return to Japan. But do I want to live in any of these places indefinately? No. Home is with my family in plain old midwest U.S.A. I’m reminded of something my husband once commented on in my writing. When I asked him what overall theme he saw in my best works, he said, “A yearning for a place that doesn’t exist.” That’s where I want to live, folks. Come visit me sometime.
5. What’s one thing about you that people don’t usually know? It does, of course, depend on how you know me. If you met me in college, you know I enjoy singing and are probably unaware I write better than I sing. (At least I do now.) If you know me through my day job, you know nothing whatsoever about me except that I’m a private individual. I suppose you might be aware that I have a daughter and work out of my home so I can also be a stay-at-home mom. Lots of people probably don’t know I’ve got some skill as an artist. I can sketch an Arabian, Mustang, Quarterhorse, Thoroughbred, Morgan or (with references) draft horses in very little time. I can also do pencils of people, but not from memory and I don’t work well from imagination as far as people are concerned.
Thanks for taking the time to do this, Sandy! It was a fun exercise and really did make me think. If anyone out there would like to take a stab at their own interview, leave me a comment with the words “Interview Me.”
For those of you who are not familiar with my book or with the history it’s based on, the John Woo movie, “Red Cliffs” covers the pivotal battle of the Three Kingdoms period. I thought you might be interested in seeing this trailer of the movie. I have seen the movie on DVD and it ends on a cliffhanger. I’ll warn you, the first ten minutes or so is bewildering to the unitiated who knows nothing of these characters or their struggles. After that, the movie is an excellent character-driven story based on two strategists from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Red Cliffs has not been released to theaters in the U.S.
Here’s the link to the trailer: http://www.examiner.com/x-1378-LA-Foreign-Film-Examiner~y2008m10d25-John-Woos-epic-Red-Cliff-marks-monumental-shift-in-Chinese-cinema. I’ve also embedded the trailer at the bottom of the page.
Variety Magazine reports that this is the highest grossing film in the Chinese movie making industry’s history. What’s more, it’s only part one.